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Gouldian Finch FAQ


Q - When should I let my gouldian finches breed?

A - Gouldian finches have a long breeding season, but you need to remember they are from Australia (Southern Hemisphere). They usually start breeding after the rains and can range from around January through to June. In the Northern Hemisphere, their breeding usually starts around July through to December. It is not wise to breed them outside these periods for many factors such as the offspring may pay the price, parents become stressed if rearing young during their annual moult etc. Parents rearing offspring during their annual moult or during their resting period can result in death as they become depressed, lack the energy, immune system becomes weak making them vulnerable to illnesses.

Q - How many pairs can I put in a single cage to breed?

A - It depends on the size of the cage. If you have a large aviary then you can breed as a colony, if you have breeding cages then 1 pair per cage. Breeding cages should really be no smaller than 36 inches long or 3ft long, smaller cages do not allow the exercise they need (remember chicks fledge and will take up room in the cage too). If breeding in a colony, make sure their nesting boxes have sufficient space between each other, or they will fight over territory. Gouldian finches will fight to the death over territory, so be warned. I like to keep a bare minimum of 1ft (30cm) distance between nesting boxes to limit fighting.

Q - Why do partners fight when breding?

A - Fighting among pairs is quite common, especially in first time breeding pairs. The reason is believed to be because one is not doing their sitting duty, so the partner will chase them around the cage, making the only safe place to be is in the nesting box. I rarely put two first time breeding birds together, it almost always ends in disappointment in their first try, so I put a first timer with an experienced breeding bird so they can teach their partner. Some birds simply do not want to breed despite being forced to breed against their will (unpaired birds) this happens when the hen has not chosen her own partner for breeding. It is vital for a hen to choose her own mate and not you the breeder choose for her, so she needs a good selection from which to choose to get the best mate.

Q - My hen is laying bloody eggs, why?

A - There are various reasons for this but usually if blood is seen it is often only the first egg but sometimes more than one egg may have blood on the shells. Reasons can be, the hen is young and has burst a blood vessel in or around the vent, prolapse, hen is getting too old, A sudden extension of the lighting period at the time the hens start laying, mites, cloaca, hen may be too fat thus having to stretch the cloaca more during egg laying, laying eggs which are too large or laying double yolk eggs.

Q - My hen is laying eggs without shells, why?

A - Lack of daily minerals but often lack of calcium in their diet. Infectious bronchitis and egg drop syndrome, hen may be getting too old to lay eggs, defective shell gland, Disease of the oviduct, poor nutrition, lack of natural daylight which hinders the calcium intake and conversion. Hens which have grown old can produce shell-less eggs due to wear and tear.

Q - My hen is laying eggs with soft shells, why?

A - This answer is almost the same as the answer to the question above, only the eggs being laid have shells, but they are soft. This is usually a lack of calcium in their diet, cuttle bone is not enough and are usually needed to be supplemented with a liquid calcium. Minerals are highly important combined with natural daylight to ensure optimum health. Constant egg laying will deplete the hen of calcium and other minerals from her body, making her weak, and this is why hens should never be allowed to over-breed. Always provide enough crushed oyster shells, crushed sterilized eggshells and grated cuttle bone in a dish at all times and supplement them with liquid calcium at least 2 times per week.

Q - Why are eggs or chicks being thrown from the nest?

A - Breeding pairs will often toss out dead or unhealthy eggs to protect the remaining eggs from bacterial infections, this is normal. Chick tossing can happen for various reasons such as the chicks may have an infection, malformed chicks, chicks that don't beg enough (weak), dead chicks etc. Sometimes chicks get caught on parents claws if they are too long while leaving the nest. Sometimes one of the breeding pairs want to start over again and clean out the nest by removing chicks and eggs. It is not uncommon for gouldians to start building a nest on top of live chicks, burying the lives chicks or eggs in the process. If a healthy egg or chick has been tossed then place it back in the nest, if it is tossed again do NOT put it back in the nest, or they will keep tossing it until it dies.

Q - Should I breed as a colony or separate pairs into breeding cages?

A - Colony breeding is always the best option, as the chicks will learn social skills better when they fledge. Separating pairs into breeding cages to be left alone can produce a less stressful environment, but the offspring will have limited social skills. It has been long debated as to which is the best method to breed gouldian finches, but in reality it is just a personal choice. Both methods work just as well as one another, and each have their pros and cons. An aggressive bird or pair I would normally put in a breeding cage to be left alone to help reduce stress for them.

Q - When should I separate the fledglings from the parents?

A - Juveniles or fledglings are basically children and as children they need adults / parents to teach them how to be a gouldian finch. They learn fast but without their parents who will they learn from, you? No, of course not, they should not really be separated at all until many months later after fledging. It is quite common to see juveniles helping to feed new offspring in nests because they are learning from adult birds, these juveniles do no harm, and it is good for their future attempts at breeding. This is why breeding cages need to be large, not small, so they can also house any fledglings. Juveniles which are removed too early usually end up giving you problems later in their lives when breeding than those left with their parents for many months.

Q - Do I need to treat my gouldians for anything during breeding season?

A - If they are not sick then why treat? You should have treated all your birds before their breeding season had started to ensure they are free from parasites, illnesses or any infections. If they fall ill during breeding them of course they will need to be treated accordingly.

Q - My gouldians are not sitting on the chicks at nights, why?

A - This is common among breeding gouldian finches, but it is perfectly normal. I have found that some of my own breeding pairs will cease to sit after a few nights of the chicks hatching, whereas some of my other breeding pairs continue to sit on the chicks overnight for well over 10 days. As long as the ambient temperature is not too cold, the chicks will be fine, and the parents will continue to care for the chicks. If you are breeding them indoors and are concerned about the temperature being too cold, then you should raise the room temperature.

Q - My gouldians have laid eggs but are not sitting on them, why?

A - Gouldian finches like most other species will not start the incubation until the final egg is laid. If all eggs are laid and the incubation process has not started (sitting on the eggs) then you can candle the eggs by using a strong LED pen light by shining it through the eggs to see if they are fertile, damaged or DIS (Dead In Shell). If the hen is disturbed, she may abandon the eggs and will either start a new clutch or will just give up for the remainder of the year. Remove damaged, infertile or eggs that are no good and see if she will start the incubation process else remove them all and let her start again, you can place any fertile eggs in an incubator or foster the eggs if needed.

Q - Is it ok to do nest inspections?

A - Frequent nest inspections should be avoided, only look if you believe something may be wrong. New bird keepers tend to inspect nests too often and end up with many abandoned eggs, chicks. If the nest smells bad or if there are dead chicks, eggs or an adult died on the nest then you can remove the dead or replace the nesting material for them creating a similar nest as the one before but without the bad smell. Some nests become overloaded with droppings, it is best to leave it alone unless it becomes damp or smelly. Nest inspections are one of the biggest causes of breeding failures for most birds, so keep it to a bare minimum. Never move a sitting gouldian off their nest, only check when both parents have left the nest.

Q - Is it safe to touch the eggs or chicks?

A - Yes it is perfectly safe to handle eggs or chicks, just handle with care. You should always wash your hands before handling eggs or chicks not because of any smells left on them but to avoid transferring bacteria which is one of the biggest killers of eggs and chicks. It is a myth that birds can smell your scent on their eggs or chicks, the very thought of it makes me chuckle. Handling young chicks should be done so with great care, they are still developing, and their bones will be soft, but I really see no reason why anyone would need to handle them anyway unless it is to put a ring on their legs or to check for deformities.

Q - My hen died, will the cock-bird continue to sit on the eggs?

A - It depends on the bird but usually yes. The cock-bird will usually continue with the sitting duties, but do NOT introduce a new hen or any other bird, or there is a risk of abandonment. Keep an eye on the bird to make sure he comes out to get regular food, water and exercise. Remember, his sitting duties will have doubled since he will be alone.

Q - My cock-bird died, will the hen continue to sit on the eggs?

A - It depends on the bird but usually yes. The hen will usually continue with the sitting duties, but do NOT introduce a new cock-bird or any other bird, or there is a risk of abandonment. Keep an eye on the bird to make sure she comes out to get regular food, water and exercise. Remember, her sitting duties will have doubled since she will be alone.

Q - My hen or cock-bird died, can the other parent look after the chicks alone?

A - Yes, but they may struggle if there are a lot of chicks. When the chicks are young, they require less food, making it easier for the parent to feed all the chicks. As the chicks grow bigger, they will require more food, so there will be more frequent visits to the feeding station. If the parent is struggling to feed the chicks, then you can help by hand feeding some of the chicks periodically, but only offer a little to each chick.


Q - What veggies & herbs can I feed my gouldians?

A - Gouldian finches can eat a wide range of vegetation, but they should never be forced to eat vegetation. Just like us humans, they also have favourites and foods they do not like. Grated carrots, grated brussel sprouts, broccoli tops, cauliflower tops, wild rocket, chard, most types of cress, any green cabbage, kales, lettuces, Fresh(oregano, thyme, mint, basil, parsley), beets, chickweed, dandelion, milk thistle. There are many more, but this is just a list to get you started.

Q - Do gouldian finches need insects in their diet?

A - This is a much debated question in many avian groups, the answer is both yes and no. No because they are not really insect eaters in the wild but may peck on the odd crustacean here and there and yes because they need the proteins which insects can offer especially during breeding season to rear their young. In decades of keeping gouldian finches, I have never offered insects of any kind and most have lived long healthy lives.

Q - Should I feed eggs or eggfood to my gouldians?

A - Offering egg too often can cause liver damage to your finch, it is a slow process, so the effects are not immediate. Egg should really only be offered during breeding season as a rich source of protein to help with muscle growth or as a rare treat. Any egg spillage should be removed before the end of the day or within a couple of hours if the weather is hot. Egg can attract bacteria very quickly and can cause a breeding ground for bacterial infestations such as E-Coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella.

Q - What is the basic diet for a gouldian finch?

A - The gouldian finch need a rich diet high in minerals, vitamins. They need a good quality foreign finch mix, which offers a good variety of fresh seeds. They need and enjoy freshly picked seeding grasses and millets. Because of their native habitat, which contains more iodine than most places on earth, they need to be supplemented with iodine periodically. They would generally eat buds off vegetation, nibble on other foliage, including fresh grasses. Because cage kept birds are unable to access all these natural foods they need to be supplemented daily, or they become prone to illnesses, create genetic issues, poor feather condition, poor growth.

Q - Are sprouted or soaked seeds better than ungerminated seeds?

A - Soaked seed and sprouted seeds are fantastic for offering good nutrition for your gouldian finches. You can make soaked seeds or sprout your own seeds right at home easily, but the most important thing to remember is to flush, rinse and drain the seeds several times each day and store in a cool dark place until ready to use. You can freeze soaked or sprouted seeds in portions and defrost when you need them to save time. When offering soaked or sprouted seeds, remember to offer their usual seeds too as not all gouldians will eat soaked or sprouted seeds. A good seed will germinate within 24 - 48 hours, older seeds can take much longer. I like to offer sprouted and germinated seeds at least once a week, sometimes twice a week.

Q - How often should I offer treats?

A - It really depends on what the treats are? If you are offering spray millets, finger millets then you can offer them almost every other day, once a week, month. If you are offering egg then make sure it is on a rare occasion unless they are rearing young. Sugary treats should be avoided unless it is fruit (caution, some fruits are highly toxic - refer to the Toxins section). Avoid high in salt or iron as well because both can cause liver damage over time.

Q - Can I give my gouldian finches human food?

A - You should avoid giving your gouldian finches human food and give them foods that were either designed for them or fresh foods made for them from fresh foliage such as cabbages, broccoli tops, carrots etc. They should not be encouraged to eat things like crisps / potato chips, fries, chips or left over take-away foods.

Q - How often do I need to offer supplements?

A - Supplements should be offered on a regular basis, but will also depend on the time of year. You should create or download a chart to keep logs of what and when you have given them supplements to avoid over/under dose. On average, vitamins are offered at least 3 times per week, liquid calcium offered once a week unless just before or just after breeding. Amino acids should be several times per week. Grit, cuttlebone, iodine blocks, crushed sterilized eggshells, carbon granules should be available at all times.

Q - Can I re-use old seed if it has not been eaten?

A - Yes, but it is not advised for various reasons. Some people will use a seed cleaner (some are called a winnower machine) which removes the shells off the seed or empty shells, then places all the good seed in a separate dish. In an ideal world, this would be a great way to save money from constantly buying seed. You have to remember, the gouldians will have already picked out their most favourite seeds, leaving the less favourable ones behind. If you unknowingly have a sick bird in the cage which has picked up some of the seeds then when you feed them back other birds will then pick up the seeds thus becoming sick also. It is much more sensible never to take the chance and just replace with fresh seed daily than having to buy birds to replace ones that you have lost due to money saving tips.


Q - How many gouldians can I keep in my cage?

A - It depends on the size of the cage or aviary. Gouldian finches do not like being crowded at all and prefer a lot of space to get about. The smallest cage size should be no smaller than 36 inches across, which is enough for just one pair. A 48-inch cage can house just two pairs comfortably but no more. It is also important to provide plenty of perching places by using natural branches (not wooden dowels or plastic perches). Overcrowded cages can cause stargazing which is an outward sign of stress, the bird exhibiting these signs will throw their head back and forth. If this is observed, then you need to reduce the over crowding right away to ensure the bird's health remains good. Over crowding can also lead to serious balding, which is also caused by stress.

Q - What are ideal cages or aviaries for keeping gouldian finches?

A - I have seen many cages advertised by companies as being finch cages, many of them are not ideal for finches at all. Many of these cages are tall and have no length for the birds to fly, finches need the length or width and not the height. Birds do not fly up and down, they fly from side to side in a horizontal fashion, not vertical. Most aviaries are suitable because of their general size, but where cages are concerned pay particular attention to the length or width where it is more important.

Q - What are suitable temperatures to keep gouldian finches?

A - Well, this is an interesting question because there is no set temperature for gouldian finches. They can survive in quite hot temperatures well over 100 degrees F if shade and cool water is provided at all times and temperatures as low as 60 degrees F as long as there is a heat source for them to warm up by. During breeding season I like to keep them between 80–95 degrees F. Never use fans to cool them down, drafts will make them sick, instead place them in the shade with a cool shallow dish of water for them to bathe in.

Q - How many daylight hours do my gouldian finches need?

A - In the winter about 10 hours of daylight will be fine, In the summer around 14 hours of daylight should be provided. Remember, while they are breeding they need 14 hours of daylight so they have more time to feed their offspring.

Q - Can I use artificial lighting for my gouldian finches?

A - Yes, there are various types of lighting that can be used to supplement your gouldian finches. You should buy lights that were designed for birds or reptiles, which provide a UVA/UVB light source at 10% strength. It does not matter if it is a halogen, LED, Fluorescent, incandescent, High Pressure Sodium type of light, any of them will be OK as long as it is designed for birds or reptiles. DO NOT experiment with other light types, lights can be dangerous to eyesight, skin, feathers etc, so it is vital you only use lights designed for birds.

Q - My cage has a wire mesh on the botton, is this ok?

A - Cages with wired mesh bottoms are one of the biggest causes of lost limbs, broken legs, broken wings even decapitation. There is no valid reason to have a mesh at the bottom of the cage anyway, and I'd suggest removing it altogether. If you have one with a fixed wired mesh bottom then cover the whole bottom with paper or cardboard alternatively get rid of the cage and get one with a better design. They are not good for any birds feet to walk on.

Q - I have a cage but where do I put it?

A - Cages should be housed in a location away from foot traffic, other house pets and away from drafts. A nice sunny position is always good for birds but remember to have a well shaded area in the cage to avoid prolonged sunshine else they will get too hot. A nice quiet area is always good for gouldian finches so they can relax and settle in. NEVER place your cage in a kitchen or anywhere near a kitchen because of the fumes from burnt foods, fumes from overheated non-stick pots and pans.

Q - I am worried about predators, what can I do to secure my cage or aviary?

A - There are many predators which may target your gouldian finches depending on your location and the environment they live in, so check you have made adequate adaptations to prevent them. If you have a problem with snakes then use a mesh with smaller holes same for bird of prey or rats. Check for holes, missing bars, wood with splits or holes etc. Deal with any ant nests nearby as they too can cause a lot of problems.

Q - Can I use a heater in the winter to keep my gouldian finches warm?

A - Sure, just makes sure you do not use a heater that lets off fumes, such as heaters with open flames. Tube heaters are usually best for this purpose, or a radiator. Try using ones with thermostats and timers to keep an even ambient temperature all around.


Q - Why is my Gouldian is going bald?

A - There are many reasons why your gouldian finch could be balding, stress, mites/lice, poor nutrition, lack of iodine, lack or not enough direct sunlight, medications, feather plucking, lack of calcium, genetic issues just to name a few.

Q - Why is my gouldian constantly preening?

A - Gouldian finches like most other bird species will preen a lot, mostly just before and during their annual moult, and is perfectly normal. They remove old or damaged feathers, which would encourage new feathers to grow in their place. They can also pick off small crustaceans and mites/lice during preening and if there is an infestation preening can go on constantly, scratching may also be observed during infestations. Sometimes they will eat part of their old feathers to recycle some of the nutrition such as calcium, especially if they are lacking in minerals.

Q - Why is my gouldian constantly scratching?

A - This can happen when there is a mite/lice infestation, dusty environment, after bathing, overheated. Skin infections can also cause constant scratching.

Q - Why is my gouldian stuck in the moult?

A - Breeding your gouldian finches at the wrong time of year can cause this, too cold when moulting began, poor nutrition and/or lack of minerals, unstable room temperatures, stress, lack of light or lack of natural direct sunlight.

Q - Why does the feathers look dull?

A - Poor nutrition, lack of natural daylight or not long enough daylight hours. Gouldian finches tend to look dull a few months before their annual moult where new bright vibrant looking feathers grow through whilst shedding the old, dull, damaged or old feathers. Once the feathers have grown you can not change how vibrant they look nor change the colour tone and will only lose their vibrancy with age.

Q - When should my gouldian finch start to moult?

A - Gouldian finches seem to be able to control their moult in ways that most other birds can not. They usually end their breeding cycle at the end of the year, then go through a resting period. During their resting period they will consume a large amount of highly nutritional food to replace all that which was lost during breeding. Their feathers begin to look dull, tatty, broken and many feathers are either pulled out or fall out. About 2–3 months before their next breeding cycle begins they start to moult (annual moult), new feathers will begin to grow.

Q - What types of moult are there?

A - 1 - Annual Moult - The season for their moult. 2 - French Moult - This is actually a disease where abnormal feathers grow back. 3 - Delayed Moult - Moult cycle begins, then is halted and remains not complete. 4 - Compressed Moult - Moulting is slowed or sped up (usually weather or diet is the cause). 5 - Juvenile Moult - This is the first moult from a juvenile to an adult.

Hand Rearing

Q - My eggs hatched today, when can I start feeding the chicks?

A - 24 hours after they hatch. Never feed a chick within the first 24 hours of it hatching because it is still surviving on the yolk sac.

Q - What do I feed the chicks?

A - You can buy hand rearing formulas online or from some pet shops or pet stores. I have always used Kaytee Exact Hand Rearing Formula, simply because it works and is easy to use. You can make your own hand rearing formula, but it is a lot of hassle making it and storing it.

Q - What consistancy should the hand rearing mix be?

A - When the chick is very young (first few days) it should be quite runny but not like water, remember it needs to feed not drink. By day 5–7 it will need to be thicker or less runny. Remember, it should be around the same temperature as the bird to help with easier digestion. As the days go by, the mixture should become thicker and thicker until it is a consistency of around 50% water and 50% food.

Q - I can not afford to buy hand rearing formula, can I make my own?

A - Yes! This FAQ does not explain how to make it, but the ingredient is relatively simple. Hard-boiled egg yolk, hulled seeds, water are the main ingredients.

Q - What tools do I need to hand rear my gouldian finch chicks?

A - You will require quite a large list of items, of which all are important to hand rear a chick. An easy to access nesting box lined with nesting material for when the chick is a bit bigger. A brooder or a heating pad / incubator, a ceramic egg cup or small dish for the hand rearing formula, 1ml needleless syringe, crop feeding tube, something to feed them with such as a matchstick (for the first few days), a roll or soft toilet paper or soft tissues, hand rearing formula, tweezers, small dish of warm water to clean off any mess, thermometer to test the food temperature.

Q - What temperatures should my gouldian finch chicks be kept at?

A - For the first week after hatching it is best to keep them around 85 degrees F but if kept in an incubator or brooder then place a sponge soaked in water in a dish so help prevent dehydration by keeping the humidity up.

Q - The skin on my gouldian finch chicks look shriveled up, why?

A - Dehydration! You need to increase the humidity and offer some electrolytes to help rehydrate the chick. When feeding the chick, begin offering more water in the mix by making it a little more runny.

Q - Where should I put my gouldian finch chicks before they fledge?

A - When they first hatch you can keep them in the incubator for a couple more days but lower the heat and humidity. Clearly they can not stay in an incubator so you will need to create some make shift brooder which is just a small enclosure with a source of heat. A red 40 watt incandescent light is useful for this purpose which will generate enough heat to keep the chick warm but make sure the bulb is out of reach so suspend the light a few inches above the floor. A week or so later, you can move the bird to a normal nesting box until it fledges. It is good practice to keep the nesting box in a cage so that when the chick fledges it will be familiar with being in a cage.

Q - Will my gouldian finch chicks always be hand tame when they are older?

A - It really depends on how much time you spend with the gouldian when it was a chick and how well you treated the bird. I like to get my fledgling strait in a cage or aviary where other gouldian finches are so they can begin to learn from them rather than me, they always come to my hand when I hold it out for them.

Q - What if my gouldian finch chick refuses food when crop is empty?

A - Sometimes this can happen when they are too weak to open their beaks for food and force-feeding is required swiftly. In this case, make sure the food you are offering has plenty of water so it can digest it quicker. You may need to open the beak and crop feed using a crop feeding tube or by placing liquidized food to the back of the throat, making sure the chick swallows it. Never give too much food at one time, it should be small amounts each feed.

Q - How often do I change the bedding?

A - During and after every feed, even if it looks clean. Tissue paper is cheap enough, so do not be afraid to change it all the time.

Q - How long will the hand rearing formula last once mixed up?

A - I usually mix up enough to last about 3–4 hours, then store what is left in the fridge after use. To re-heat, put the cup with the mixture in a dish of warm water for 15 minutes, then use the thermometer to test the heat of the mixture. Remember to stir occasionally to keep an even consistency also evenly distributing the heat throughout the mixture. Do not leave the mixture out on a warm day, else it will need throwing away.


Q - Why is my gouldian finch heavy breathing?

A - There are many reasons for heavy breathing / laboured breathing such as Air Sac Mites, respiratory infections, egg binding (for hens only), internal organ swelling, just after a lengthy flight or being chased, tumours, protozoa infections, fungal infections, bacterial infections. It is recommended to take the bird to an avian vet to find what is wrong so it can be treated asap.

Q - When my gouldian finch breaths I hear a clicking noise, why?

A - There may be a respiratory infection, canker, air sac mites, tumour, candidiasis. This should be addressed as soon as possible.

Q - Why is my gouldian finch always fluffed up?

A - When you notice your gouldian finch fluffed up, it is trying to conserve body heat and is often associated with an illness. You should provide a source of heat i.e. a heat lamp for birds in which the bird can sit next to keep warm. During this time, you should have the bird checked over to make sure it is not ill.

Q - How can I tell if my gouldian finch is sick?

A - First initial signs are sitting quietly with a fluffed up appearance constantly. Odd looking droppings can often be observed depending on the cause of the illness. Less vocal, not eating or drinking, sitting on the floor sleeping, unable to fly properly if at all, unable to perch, sleeping with head tucked in all the time, droopy wings and poor posture are other classical symptoms of an illness or sick gouldian finch.

Q - How often do I trim nails / claws?

A - It is advised to check your bird's nails on a regular basis especially if you have a lot of gouldian finches as they can grow quite quickly, every 3–6 months should be fine.

Q - How do I know if my gouldian finch is healthy?

A - Your gouldian finches should look vibrant, active and flighty. They should eat and drink normally and should be seen bathing every day. They should receive a good rich diet of vitamins and minerals and should have a good posture when perched. Their eyes should always be fully open with good feather condition unless in the annual moult. Good breeders strive to have the healthiest gouldian finches they can possibly have which will help produce future generations of good stock.

Q - How do I keep my gouldian finch healthy?

A - Always make sure your gouldian finches have everything they need from best diet to plenty of spacious room which has no over crowding. Perform regular health checks and check all products are not out of date. Keep their environment as clean as possible at all times and move perches, branches, trees or shrubs around often to give them new places to explore. Gouldian finches love exploring, although some do not like the changes and have their favourite perching places. Add privacy perches so they have a place to go rest alone in those busy times. Provide a fresh bath daily to help them keep clean. Offer fresh food and water daily and always scrub their food dishes and drinkers out daily.

Q - Why is my gouldian finch twisting or tilting its heach back all the time?

A - Throwing their head back and forth is called Stargazing which is an outward sign of stress, this is often seen when the bird has been moved from a large flight or cage to a much smaller one or when perches are too close to the top of the cage. If the bird is tilting its head upside down, around in an unusual way or rolling about uncontrollably then this is called Twirling which is in no way related to stargazing. Twirling can be one of several things such as Paramyxovirus, inner ear infection, genetic carry-over, something lodged deep in the ear, Labyrinthitis, head trauma or brain injury. Often it can be cured, but sometimes it can be permanent. The onset can be like a flick of a switch and can disappear in the same fashion.

Q - Why is my gouldian finch sat on the floor all the time?

A - This is usually a sign something is wrong, either the bird is ill or there is an injury, a complete physical examination is required to find out what is wrong. If the bird is sick, then the final place you find them is on the floor shortly before they die. Heat is needed to warm them up right away so they can be assessed. Being over weight or old age may cause them to become floor bound as they struggle to find the strength to use their wings.

Q - My gouldian finch always sleeps during the day, why?

A - This is a sign of an underlying illness or depression, I have seen this is gouldians who have been housed in cages that are far too small for them despite never finding anything wrong with them. The bare minimum size cage should be no smaller than 36 inches long (3ft). They need things to do and lots of perches. A good, strong light source is also required for them, as they can not survive in poor light conditions.

Q - Why does my gouldian finch sit under the heat lamp all the time?

A - Gouldian finches love heat but if you find one that sits constantly under a light to keep warm then make sure the ambient room temperature if not too cold for them, if it is too cold for you then it will most certainly be too cold for them. Gouldian finches born in cold climates or were not sat on by the parents when they were chicks can suffer with the cold later in their lives. A sick gouldian will always seek heat first and will stay under the light for as long as possible.

Q - My gouldian finch looks like it is regurgitating its food all the time, why?

A - The first thing that would spring to mind is canker also known as trichomoniasis, but there are other things it can be to such as candidiasis, crop infection, something stuck in the throat or crop, tumours, breaking down food to feed offspring. These are just some of the things it could be, but there are more. Really a crop sample should be taken and observed under a microscope or feel the neck for lumps, else feel the crop for anything unusual.

Q - Why does my gouldian finch keep coughing or sneezing?

A - Respiratory issues can cause coughing or sneezing, among other things. A common problem is mites known as air sac mites, if left untreated they can multiply quickly and block the bird's airways. Other causes can be poor air quality such as someone smoking in the room, fumes, bird flu. Coughing and sneezing can become a serious issue, so will need immediate attention.

Q - My gouldian finch has become a clumbsy flier, what is the cause?

A - I have seen this all too often in many finch species, and it is narrowed down quite simply into a few categories. Broken bones or muscular damage, loss of flight feathers or moult, starvation and lack of energy. I always check the bird's body weight to make sure it is not 'going light' (weight loss) and then move on to check for broken bones within the wings. On a rare occasion you may come across a gouldian finch who just simply can not fly and do not know why, problems may be damage to the brain or a genetic problem that is much deeper than we can see. You may also want to consider the age of the bird, as it is quite common for elderly birds to lose the ability to fly and become floor-bound. Being floor-bound due to old age does not mean they are sick or need any kid of treatment at all, it just means they are too old to fly. They can remain floor-bound for a couple of years and can live a very happy life.

Q - Why can my gouldian finch no longer perch?

A - Check your gouldian finch's feet and toes, and remember to look on the underside of the feet. Bumble foot / Tassel Foot can make life very difficult for a bird to stand, let alone grip anything. A gouldian finch which is underweight due to illness or starvation will be too weak to perch and can usually be found sitting on the floor. Make sure the perches are suitable for your gouldian finches, and lastly, it is possible the bird may have arthritis.

Q - Why does my gouldian keep thrusting its butt?

A - I have seen this on many occasions, it is usually constipation or a blockage. If a build up of droppings accumulate around the vent then it will eventually clock the entrance of the vent preventing the bird from pooping, butt pecking maybe observed frequently as well as butt pumping, so this needs to be washed off with warm water. If it is a hen then it could be egg binding where she is unable to push out the egg without assistance.

Q - My gouldian finch has swollen feet and looks scabby, why?

A - This can often be misinterpreted for scaly leg mites and is often treated for the mites, leaving the pet owner frustrated and confused when it never clears up. No mite treatment in the world will ever work because it is not a mite issue, it is called Hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin). The skin becomes hard and does not fall off normally, causing the toes, feet and legs to swell. Treatment should begin the moment you notice it, and if left for too long can kill your gouldian finch. You will need an antibiotic cream such as Neosporin and rub it into the skin from the hip down to the tips of its toes whilst getting in between the toes. Make sure you do not miss any parts, and make sure you do not leave chunks of cream that the bird can peck at when you are done. Place the bird on antibiotics until it has completely cleared up. It can take several weeks, but you will need to remove the dead skin as it falls away each time. Take care as this can really stress your finch. Apply the cream once every 2 days for as long as it is required and for a week after it has cleared. Perches should be sterilized each day and keep the bird in a cage of its own with heat during this time.


Q - I have eggs in my incubator, what temperature should I set it at?

A - Quite simply put 99.5 degrees F which is 37.5 C.

Q - How often should I turn the eggs during incubation?

A - This is a question I have seen much debated, but there is really no set time and depends on the bird sitting. Since I was unsure myself I set up an experiment and decided to set up a breeding cage next to my bed, I could hear the gouldian finches turn the eggs approximately every 2 hours throughout the night and assumed it will be the same for the daytime too. I set my incubator to turn the eggs every 2 hours throughout the day and night, with excellent results.

Q - What angle do I turn the eggs during turn mode?

A - In reality it does not matter as long as they are turned on a regular basis. When I put eggs in my incubator I set the turn angle to 90 degrees so it will roll the eggs 90 degrees one way and then 90 degrees back again every 2 hours (or what turn mode time it is set on).

Q - How often should I clean my incubator when incubating eggs?

A - You should clean the incubator every few days, as high humidity causes mould to grow or other bacteria. It is best to have everything ready, so the clean can take no more than 15 minutes. An egg can be left unattended for short periods of time without heat and not cause any damage to the embryo. Make sure to use a proper sterilizing solution and rinse out properly afterwards, then dry everything carefully. Remember to fill the cup with fresh water to help create the humidity needed for correct incubation, or the eggs will dry out.

Q - One or more eggs look odd or damaged what should I do?

A - Remove any malformed or damaged eggs right away. Broken eggs or eggs that look infected can spread quickly, infecting other eggs in the incubator. An infected egg can spread overnight killing all other eggs in the incubator, so once removed scrub and sterilize the incubator, then replace all the good eggs.

Q - How much humidity should the incubator have?

A - Humidity should be no lower than 50% but should be around 55%, the last few days the humidity should be increased to around 75% to avoid dehydration and to help with the softening of the shell.

Q - Is it safe to touch the eggs?

A - yes it is perfectly safe to touch the eggs but remember to wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after. Eggs are a prime target for bacteria and human hands carry more bacteria than you may think. Remember also that eggs which are in a humid environment are easily broken when handled so take extra care. Only handle the eggs of you are either candling, removing to discard or to clean the incubator.

Q - Can I candle the eggs during incubation?

A - Of course you can, it is best not to pick up the eggs but instead use a strong LED pen light, hold it next to the egg in question then shine the light though the egg to check the embryo's progress. You can candle an egg at any point throughout its incubation period to help keep track of progress whilst giving you the opportunity to remove any dead or damaged eggs.

Q - When do I stop the turn cycle during incubation?

A - You should stop the turn cycle 24 hours before the eggs are due to hatch but keep the heat and humidity running.

Q - My power went out, what do I do?

A - Panic!!! Just kidding! 😆 The eggs should be fine for around 30 minutes without heat, but if it will be longer, you could ask a friendly neighbour to plug it in at their home until you have power again. You can 'foster' the eggs under a Society finch (Bengalese) pair, which will incubate them for you until you have power again. Did you know, a human's body temperature is warm enough to incubate eggs also keep chicks warm? Well, it is true.

Q - How long does it take for the eggs to hatch?

A - From the start of the incubation to the end should be 15 days for a full incubation period, but sometimes a chick hatches a day early so other site will say 14–15 days. I have known a gouldian chick to incubate for 16 days when I thought it had died in the shell, but to my surprise it finally hatched safe and well.

Q - The chick is struggling to hatch what do I do?

A - If the shell is already broken enough for it to break free, then leave it alone. If there is a small hole by the beak and has not moved for several hours, then you can carefully remove some of the shell to assist the chick's hatching process. If the chick is late hatching, but there is no sign of a crack or hole in the shell, place the egg on a flat surface in the incubator and wait for an hour to see if it moves, if it does then the chick maybe struggling to get out. Chicks that can not break free may be suffocating within the egg, and you can create a tiny hole in the egg on the opposite side of the pointed end, but the hole must be no more than 1mm deep to allow air in. DO NOT make any holes anywhere else in the egg, it MUST only be the opposite of the pointed end where the air sac is located.

Q - I have a damaged egg, what should I do?

A - Saving damaged eggs depend on several factors, such as: 1. Is the egg fertile? 2. Is the egg malformed? 3. Is the right size? 4. How far has the chick inside developed? 5. How severe is the damage? If there is a developing chick inside which is still alive, then it is still possible to save it. You would need a few items such as an incubator or an environment where the egg can be kept around 99.6 degrees F. Place the damaged egg carefully into a small sealed top bag, roll up a small tissue paper and then soak it. Gently squeeze out most of the water and place the tissue ball in the bag with the egg, but not touching the egg. Seal the bag leaving a small opening (for air) then carefully place the bag in the incubator. Do not turn the bag over if it is in the early stages of development, or the liquid will come out. The bag will keep the humidity in high so that the egg does not dry out, and the chick should hatch out when ready. The above will apply even if much of the shell has come off. The chick has a better chance of survival the more developed it is.


Q - Droppings have fresh blood, why?

A - There are several reasons why there may be fresh blood in the droppings, Internal injury lower digestion tract, Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY), coccidiosis, cancer, tumour, internal burst cyst, burst ulcers. When ever fresh blood is seen in the stools, it is serious and needs immediate attention.

Q - Droppings have old dried blood, why?

A - Old blood is usually from an old injury higher in the digestion tract, an external injury where the bird has eaten the blood and has since turned black as it passes through the digestion tract. It is also possible for a sharp foreign body to be stuck high up in the digestion tract where it had once caused a bleed but has since stopped. Heavy metal poisoning such as lead can also cause red to black in the urine or faecal matter.

Q - My hen has clear slimey droppings, why?

A - When the droppings are just translucent and in a slime type consistency it is usually from a hen. What you are seeing is not droppings, it is the egg white of either a malformed egg or from an egg that has broken inside the hen. If this is observed often from the same bird then a visit to an avian vet would be suggested.

Q - Why do the droppings look like popcorn?

A - Popcorn looking droppings are usually signs of pancreatic disease, the droppings are usually greyish and quite bulky. Often you may see undigested seed in the droppings, which may point towards worn down gizzards or a gizzard disease.

Q - The droppings are all grey, why?

A - When the whole droppings appear grey and chalky right away, I focus on the pancreas and suspect pancreatic disease. When the droppings dry out, and you shine a light over the droppings, they will usually sparkle as the light reflects off the crystallized urate crystals.

Q - Why does the droppings look pea green / lime green?

A - The food you feed your gouldian finches will greatly affect the colour, consistency and texture of your bird's droppings. If your gouldian finch has pea green / lime green droppings, and you have not fed them anything green, then you may well be looking at liver disease, especially if they consistently have pea green droppings. There are various causes of liver disease such as Parrot Fever, Chlamydiosis. Severe weight loss is often observed, known as 'going light'.

Q - The droppings look dry, why?

A - Lack of water, dehydration! To see if the bird is dehydrated you can carefully pinch the skin on the belly, if the skin springs back then it is not dehydrated but if it stays then it is dehydrated and will need electrolytes to help rehydrate. Constipation when the bird is trying to force a dropping out but can not, this can be a foreign body stuck in the GI tract. Sometimes this can be observed in hens but turns out the hen is actually egg bound and is having troubles pushing the egg out of her vent, this is not constipation.

Q - Why do the droppings look runny?

A - Diarrhoea is actually uncommon in most birds and is confused with too much urine in the droppings. If the bird is eating less but drinks the same, then there will be an uneven balance of the stool and will give the appearance of the dropping being more runny. This is the same if the bird eats normally but drinks a lot more, the droppings will contain a lot more water than usual. When a bird has too much water in the droppings, this is known as polyuria. If your gouldian finch is bathing a lot they will consume more water as they bath, which is normal. Giardia can produce true diarrhoea where even the faecal matter turns watery but with a strong smell.

Q - The droppings smell really bad, why?

A - My first suspect in this case would almost certainly be Giardia as the culprit!. Usually you can smell the droppings before you even reach the cage, and I have known one single bird to sink out a whole room whilst infected with Giardia. Droppings are often brown / green and are runny, which can sometimes be splattered all over the place depending on the severity. Some bacterial, yeast or fungal infections can also cause bad odours or even some foods that the bird has eaten.

Q - Why does the droppings look pure white like toopaste?

A - The white creamy looking section of the stool is the urates, if there are no clear liquids(urine) and no solid masses such as green/brown parts (faecal matter) then your bird has unlikely had any food or little to drink which is rare but can happen.

Q - Why does the faecal matter look yellow?

A - Remember what you feed your gouldian finches will reflect in their droppings!, if you feed food that have yellow dyes then the droppings will become yellow. If you have not fed anything yellow and their droppings are always yellow, especially the faecal matter, then further observation is required. Yellow faecal usually always mean weight loss (anorexia), Chlamydia, liver disease, bacterial infections. Always check the bird's body weight by feeling the breastbone, there should be plenty of muscle mass on each side of the breastbone. If weight loss is suspected, then a trip to the local avian vet is recommended asap.

Q - Why is the urates bright yellow?

A - If no foods with a strong yellow colour has been offered yet the urates are still consistently yellow, then I'd suspect liver disease, chlamydia. Often the urine will have a tint of yellow too. Both liver disease and chlamydia are hard to treat, and treatment should be under the guidance of a qualified avian vet.

Q - The urine is bright yellow, why?

A - The urine should always be clear but there are times it can become stained with what ever the bird has consumed. If foods or supplements have strong dyes then it can stain the urine. Examples of staining are the consumption of beetroot which may turn the urine red, vitamin drops can stain the urine yellow if either are consumed in large amounts. Continuous yellow staining in the urine may signify a bacterial infection or a disease of the liver. A trip to the local avian vet would be advised.

Q - There is urine but no faecal matter, why?

A - When there are urates and urine but no faecal matter, then your bird is either not eating or there is an internal blockage in the digestion tract (upper or lower). Sometimes your finch can have a parasitic worm such as tapeworm which will consume all the foods the bird eats and will leave nothing to come out. Make sure your gouldian finches are de-wormed on a regular basis.

Q - There is faecal matter and urates but no urine, why?

A - Your gouldian finch is not drinking enough water, dehydration.

Safe vs Not Safe

Q - Are natural branches safe for my gouldian finches?

A - Most are safe to use, but there are some trees you should avoid using branches from because either the sap, bark, foliage or the wood can be poisonous to your gouldian finches. You can refer to the Safe List section on the Gouldian Finch Information Pack to check which branches are safe and what ones are not.

Q - Is it safe to keep my gouldian finches in or near a kitchen?

A - NO, NO and NO! Keep your birds well away from your kitchen and close any doors between the kitchen and your birds. Fumes from burning non-stick items or burnt cooking can kill your birds easily.

Q - Are the plants in my garden safe for my gouldian finches to eat?

A - Actually there are many plants in your garden which your gouldian finches will be able to eat safely, but there are also toxic plants which should be avoided, you can refer to the Safe List section on the Gouldian Finch Information Pack to check which plants are safe and what ones are not.

Q - Are wired bottom cages safe for my gouldian ficnhes?

A - NO! Wired bottom cages are one of the biggest causes of list limbs with most kind of birds and can even cause death as they become trapped. It is advised to either remove the wired mesh bottom, cover the mesh at the bottom, or do not buy cages with a wired bottom.

Q - Is it safe to breed my gouldian finches if they are under one year old?

A - Really, they should be around a year old and have completed their first annual moult. They 'must' fully develop before any attempt to breed them, or you may introduce genetic issues into future generations that you can not get rid of. Any eggs produced by chicks or young fledglings should be discarded, and the chicks separated by gender to avoid further egg production until they are ready.

Q - My cage has some rusty parts, will it harm my gouldian finches?

A - Oh yes! Rust can kill your finch so if you find any rust on the cage then you can either get a new cage, mesh or you can sand down the rust, spray with s bird friendly paint. If you have rusty toys then throw them away then buy new ones, they will not cost much anyway.

Q - Can I put other species of birds in with my gouldian finches?

A - There are many species of birds you can put with gouldian finches, but there are many that should not be mixed. Any species that have a hook bill such as budgies, cockatiels, lovebirds. Canaries, hyperactive finches, should not be housed with gouldian finches except for a few species.

Q - Is it safe to use human, horse or other animal hair for nesting material?

A - Any kind of human or animal hair is not good to use, despite the fact they may use it in the wild. I have personally had many bad experiences where some birds were found either dead, hanging by their wings, legs and even by their neck. I have heard countless stories of similar cases with using hair as nesting material. Hair does not break easily at all, and horse hair takes a lot to snap, even if it is a single strand. They prefer meadow grass or a good quality coconut fibre.

Q - I treated for air sac mites but did not work, can I treat again?

A - Yes but not right away, remember once they have been treated the drug will remain in their blood for the duration as stated on the bottle, dosing them again will double dose them and may cause overdose. If the bottle tells you to treat them again in 7 days, then please wait the 7 days before repeating or using anything else.

Q - Is it safe to put more than one breeding pair together?

A - Yes, but make sure the cage is big enough to house at least 6 birds for each pair because you have to take into account that each pair will have around 4 offspring. Make sure the nesting boxes are at each end of the cage so they are as far apart as possible to avoid infighting. It is ridiculous to think you can breed a single pair in a 2ft long breeding cage, although shops sell breeding cages this short they are not suitable for breeding gouldian finches. At the point where you pair your gouldian finches for breeding, you rarely give thought that there will also be fledglings in the near future taking up extra much-needed space. Over crowding is one of the biggest problems for the captive gouldian finch.

Q - Is it safe to leave my gouldian finches outside all year round?

A - The answer to this question depends on the climate where you live. If in the Southern Hemisphere then your climate will be warmer throughout the winter months so should be fine, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere then it is strongly recommended to bring them indoors where it is warmer for them. Stupid people believe they can acclimatize these birds to become a cold climate species overnight, when in nature it takes thousands if not millions of years to do this. It is like putting a goldfish in cold water then gradually turning up the heat, then call it a tropical species of goldfish. Gouldian finches are a heat loving bird and relish every moment of heat they can get, the cold serves them no favours at all and will either huddle together, fluff up on the floor whilst others will fly very actively to stay warm.

Q - Will home grown millet harm my gouldian finches?

A - Home-grown millet is the best because you can give it to them whilst it is still fresh. By the time you buy your millet from a shop it will already be dried out and almost lifeless, whereas freshly picked millets will be full of life, moist kernels and bursting with nutrition. Millets are very easy to grow at home and take up almost no space at all in your garden or flower pots. There are various types of millets or seeding grasses, each having their own levels of difficulty, but generally they all do well. It is as simple as buying their favourite type of millet and planting some of the seeds about 2cm deep in early spring, then wait until the seed heads are ripe later in the year.

Scheduled Tasks

Q - How often should I treat for worms?

A - Usually around once every 6 months should be fine!. If you have already treated for worms and a few months after you suspect one or more has worms, then you can treat again as a precaution.

Q - How often do I need to treat for coccidiosis?

A - Coccidiosis can come at any time, but usually it is more common after a spell of heavy rain. Usually they can be treated around once every 6 months, but you can treat within this time if another occurrence appears. Please note that if not treated correctly, it can re-surface in a week or two, forcing you to go through the process all over again. It can spread among your flock swiftly, so it needs to be dealt with promptly.

Q - How often do I need to treat for canker/trichomoniasis?

A - Canker / Trichomoniasis much like Coccidiosis can rear its ugly head at any time and is highly contagious, so as a precaution you should treat all your gouldian finches every 6 months. If there is a re-infection of it, then you may need to treat again.

Q - How often should I treat for parasitic mites?

A - Mites are a big problem for gouldian finches and can be persistent, so it is best to treat every 3 months. Air sac mites are common and can re-infect right after a course of treatment has ended. Scaly leg/face mites are also a problem and can take on average around 3 months to eradicate properly. These pests are around us all the time in nature, so they are unavoidable, this is why we medicate as a precaution on a regular basis.

Q - How often should I clean their cage?

A - Small cages should be every day or every other day and larger cages around 3 times per week depending on how many birds it houses. Aviaries can go as much as 2 weeks - 2 months, depending on size and how many birds it houses. Dirty cages / aviaries are breeding grounds for bacteria and will soon enough make your gouldian finches sick!, clean them often.

Q - When do I change their seasonal diets?

A - Changing their diets according to the seasons is important, so before several weeks before breeding, several weeks before breeding and again during their rest period.

Q - When do I catch up my gouldian finches for periodic heath checks?

A - Every 3–6 months would be an ideal time, but not too often, as this causes a lot of stress for your birds.

Q - When do I set my gouldian finches up for breeding?

A - They are usually ready as soon as a couple of weeks right after their annual moult has complete. In the Northern Hemisphere it will be between June and July, in the Southern Hemisphere it will be around December to January.

Q - When do I replace old light bulbs even if they are still working?

A - Lights should be checked on a regular basis, taking note of when they were replaced and what their lifespan is. Despite a light still working fine, they do have a lifespan where they become less efficient (hours of use). Lights which run past their lifespan can actually produce less light and use much more electricity to operate.

Q - When do I remove all nesting boxes?

A - All nesting boxes should be removed right at the end of breeding season and cleaned out ready for the next season. Northern Hemisphere is the beginning of December, in the Southern Hemisphere June. Avoid allowing your gouldian finches to breed more than twice a year, as it will shorten their lifespan.

Q - When do I add all the nesting boxes?

A - Usually about a week or two after their breeding season begins. It is a good idea to place nesting material in the cage without nesting boxes first and have their diet changed to get them into condition. The males will begin singing louder to attract a hen ready for breeding, and then add your nesting boxes (not nesting baskets).

Q - When do I check dates on medicines and supplements?

A - Every time you use them but every 6 months you should check them all to make sure none are out of date. Some medicines can still be used well beyond their sell by date. Order replacements a couple of weeks before you throw them away so you do not run out.


Q - What is the best place to aquire more birds?

A - A breeder with a good reputation. A breeder that will allow you to see how the birds were kept and will give you a full history of the birds you buy.

Q - When I bring home more gouldian finches, what do I do?

A - You must never bring home new birds and mix them with your own flock, they MUST be quarantined for around 40 days. The reason for the quarantine is to give the birds time to exhibit any illnesses they may have so you can take immediate action, thus protecting your own flock. If you bring home new gouldians and let them loose among your own flock and are carrying anything harmful, they will spread it throughout your flock like wildfire. Whilst in quarantine you should check them on a regular basis for body weight, observe their eating and drinking habits, signs of aggression, check droppings daily, look for signs of fluffed up feathers or gouldians that sleep too often.

Q - What should I look for when choosing new gouldian finches?

A - You should look for clean, tidy plumage, not over or under weight. A nice posture and very active. Observe the parent birds if possible and look at their condition. Look at the environment they were raised in and ask about the diet they were raised on. Find out the history and any medical history. Avoid buying birds with issues out of sympathy because it is likely they are ill and will probably infect your flock at home.

Q - I have too many gouldian finches, what do I do with the excess?

A - At some point you may become over stocked after a season of breeding, you will need to find new homes for these gouldian finches. Avoid selling or giving gouldian finches to inexperienced people, and avoid traders who care nothing about the birds. Some pet stores are OK, but they are far and few between but remember they are only there to make a profit and to care little about the birds. I like to see my birds go to people who have a keen interest, people that ask a lot of questions, people that are willing to go the extra mile for their birds.

Q - I bought a gouldian finch, does it come with any guarantees?

A - This will depend on the person who sold you the bird, but you should ask before parting with your hard-earned cash. Birds that leave a breeder in good health does not mean they will stay in good health, so a lot will depend on you and how well you keep them. A fair breeder will give you your money back if the bird dies within a period of time, but they don't have to give you any guarantees if they choose not too.

Q - Should I treat any new gouldian finches I bring home?

A - Before you bring home any new gouldian finches, ask the previous owner about the bird's medical history. Knowing the bird's medical history will tell you if you need to treat for anything when you get it home. If the bird has recently been treated for something, then you do not want to treat it again to avoid overdosing. Common treatments are usually for feather mites / lice, air sac mites, canker, coccidiosis and parasitic worms.

Q - Should I buy all my gouldian finches from the same person?

A - This is a tricky question to answer, but here goes. If the breeder has a good selection of gouldians from which to choose and he or she is honest, then yes, as long as you do not keep bringing home the same bloodline. It is always best to buy from different locations to ensure you have new genetics or a fresh bloodline to prevent inbreeding. Make sure the breeder is a trusted breeder with a good reputation before buying anything from them.

Q - Should I buy from a shop / store or a private seller?

A - Some shops or stores have links to very good breeders who will only supply good quality ringed birds, these shops or stores are hard to find these days. Private sellers can be good, bad or even both, so it is best to rely on experience from other buyers by checking their reputation. Buying from a shop or store the bird should have a closed ring preferably with an ID unique to the shop, so a customer can not return any dead birds which did not come from the shop.

Q - Are tabletop bird sales a good place to buy gouldian finches from?

A - I have had both good and bad experiences with bird tabletop sales, I have brought home some excellent quality birds which 10 years later are still alive and well. Some people will try to palm off their old breeding stock who are worn out, tired and tell you they are young, but with a keen eye you can see which are young from the old. Tabletop sales are a good place to visit and buy gouldian finches from, but you need some degree of experience with gouldians first. Sometimes it is a good idea to travel long distances to a table-top bird sale, this is to help prevent buying birds that may have come from the same bloodline as your own birds at home.

Q - When aquiring new stock, what do I transport them in?

A - Before going on a quest to bring home any new gouldian finch, you must first make sure you have prepared a cage at home for them and then remember to bring a carry cage / transport cage. Cages for transporting live birds are small but big enough to house a few until you can get home quite safely. Remember to bring a drinker with water and food if you plan a long distance journey, and bring a small bottle of fresh clean water to top up the drinker if any is spilt along the way. Do not leave them with the sun glaring on them throughout the whole journey, or they will overheat also remember they like fresh air too. Make sure the cage is secured so that it does not bounce around or fall over during the trip. Avoid over stocking the cage with birds to avoid stress, if needed, bring more cages.


Q - What are the symptoms of Avian Gastric Yeast?

A - Avian Gastric Yeast also known as AGY or Megabacteria can cause the bird to exhibit clinical signs of illness within as little as a few hours after contracting the disease. Typical signs are lethargy, undigested seeds in the droppings, weight loss despite eating all the time although the last day they may refuse food all together, runny stools, blood in the stools, sleeping constantly with fluffed up appearance and will often be found sleeping on the floor in the advanced stages. A physical examination with the belly feathers wetted down and moved out of the way often reveals a blackened area in the lower abdomen and sometimes around the vent area. A sample of a faecal viewed under a microscope at x100 magnification or higher will normally reveal rod shaped bacteria, the amount of rods depends on the severity and what time of the day the sample was taken. Treatment for this is usually Amphotericin. You can slow the growth rate down using Raw Apple Cider Vinegar 5ml to 1 litre of water and offer daily for around 14 days.

Q - What are the symptoms of Hyperkeratosis?

A - Hyperkeratosis is the thickening of the skin. It is often mistaken for scaly leg mites and treated with the incorrect medication, leaving the pet owner confused by the fact it just keeps getting worse. The skin thickens and turns hard, restricting the blood flow, causing severe swelling of the toes, feet and even the leg. Usually when one leg has it the other leg will have it also, but the age of the bird does not matter as birds newly fledged can show signs of this in as little as a week after fledging. This can without a doubt be a life-threatening disease if not caught in time, so always check your bird's feet carefully. This can spread over the entire body, causing much discomfort to the bird. It is not contagious but what causes it Hyperkeratosis can spread to other birds. Generally the cause is a vitamin deficiency such as vitamin A. Clinical signs often show sores, yellow lumps, cracked skin, raised hard skin, all which can cover as little as one toe to the whole leg. Treatment requires all perches must be cleaned daily or changed, use real branches and cover their favourite perch in a soft material. I use a ball of string and wind it on to a perch, so it gives them a soft surface on which to perch during treatment. Use an antibiotic cream such as Neosporin in severe cases or Vaseline in lesser cases and apply using a soft art paint brush to the effected areas, alternatively you can rub it over the whole area using your finger. Place the bird on a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Baytril for 10–14 days if there are signs of infection. The effected areas must be treated once every 2 days until no more signs of the disease. A lack of vitamin A are the usual causes of Hyperkeratosis or other nutritional deficiencies, so make sure you provide plenty of vitamins at all times.

Q - What are the symptoms of Air Sac Mites?

A - Air Sac Mites can be mistaken for many other illnesses, infections or parasites such as respiratory infections, Trichomoniasis / Canker, Candida, Giardia, Parasitic worms just to name a few. As these can all become painful over time, it causes the bird to begin breathing heavy, giving the impression there may be an Air Sac Mite infestation. Air Sac Mites can be seen clearly under a microscope after taking a swab from inside the beak, even at x100 magnification. The classic signs of Air Sac Mites (depending on how long the bird has had them) are constant beak wiping, laboured breathing, sneezing, coughing, swallowing constantly, wheezing, obvious clicking noises which can be clearly heard at night when they sleep. Usually, if one bird in your flock has it, then they are all treated together. The best treatment is Moxidectin which is added to the drinking water for 24 hours only removing all other water sources, then repeat this 30 days later. Ivermectin can also be used but comes in two forms, a spot-on treatment where one drop is applied to the skin or the oral type that is added to the drinking water (read the pack to find out what type you have before use). There are two other products, Scatt and S76, which I believe both can be bought as the oral type or as a spot-on. I have been asked on many occasions which is the best to use out of the four, and I always reply Moxidectin, but in truth all will do the job fine.

Q - What are the symptoms of Tricomoniasis / Canker?

A - There are quite a few symptoms for Trichomoniasis, but not all symptoms may not be observed if the bird is infected with it. Common symptoms are runny droppings, Food stuck around the beak, heavy breathing, constantly twisting its neck as if to crush food in the crop, mucus around the (face, beak and breast), yellow cheesy looking masses within the beak at the back, yellow masses just below the skin in the abdomen area, yellow droppings but runny. Treatment should begin right away and treat all birds within your flock. There are many products to treat Trichomoniasis, but Ronidazole is usually used and probably the most effective. It usually takes 5–7 days of treatment, with signs of progress in as little as 1 day.

Q - What are the symptoms of Giardia?

A - This is a water-borne parasite which can infect your flock as soon as they take a drink! The symptoms of Giardia are unmistakable, with the first obvious signs being constant scratching and rancid smelling runny pooh. You may observe depression, weight loss, self feather plucking (balding), vomiting, loss of appetite, slimy droppings, continuous yeast infections. Transmission from one bird to another is usually through the water as a bird poops in the drinker or bath, then other birds consume the infected water so also becomes infected. Ronidazole or Metronidazole are the choice of medications to kill the parasite.

Q - What are the symptoms of Aspergillosis?

A - Aspergillus is a common fungus which is all around us in nature and thrives in warm damp environments, when your bird becomes infected with this fungus it causes respiratory problems known as Aspergillosis. Birds infected usually become acute or chronic with the disease, with the latter being more serious. Typical symptoms are severe difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, weight loss, frequent drinking and urination, bluish colouration of mucus membranes and/or skin. The symptoms can easily be mistaken for an Air Sac Mite infestation by an inexperienced person, thus end up being treated incorrectly. Endoscopy is the usual way to diagnose the condition along with a full blood count, radiographs and sometimes x-rays. Aspergillosis is very hard to treat and can take a very long time but only if caught early. Typically, antifungal drugs are used to treat fungal infections such as Amphotericin B, Itraconazole, Nystatin. Once your bird has been diagnosed with Aspergillosis, the prognosis is not usually good.

Q - What are the symptoms of Coccidiosis?

A - Coccidiosis is a single celled organism which is a protozoan called Coccidia. Birds become infected with the parasite when they consume contaminated water, food or droppings, whereupon the parasites will end up attaching themselves to the lining cells of the intestine. Coccidia can reproduce at an alarming rate by producing oocysts which later grow into coccidia. They damage the lining cells of the intestine, which can cause bleeding internally. Often fresh or old blood can be seen in the bird's droppings, where fresh blood is from the lower digestion tract and the old blood higher up in the digestion tract. Old blood will appear black as it takes longer to pass through the intestine to be expelled. Usually, the more blood indicates a higher number of the Coccidia parasites internally. As the Coccidia reproduce, oocysts will start being shed through the droppings, which can be observed under a microscope at x100 magnification. Typical symptoms are weight loss, dehydration, constantly eating while still losing weight, runny droppings, blood in the droppings, black patches like bruising under the skin of the abdomen, fluffed up appearance, general sick bird appearance, unable to balance on a perch, sitting on the floor all the time, loss of appetite. Coccidiosis is easy to treat by using a sulfa based antibiotic, most coxoid medications will work such as Baycox, Coxoid, Coccivet.

Q - What are the symptoms of Scaly Face / Leg Mites?

A - Knemidokoptes is also known as knemidocoptes or cnemidocoptes. These burrowing mites are a bird version of mange and if left untreated can cause loss of limbs or even death. These mites have a relatively short life cycle, usually around 10–14 days, but can cause a lot of damage during that time. They burrow deep into the skin, feed off the skin, blood of the victim whilst laying eggs and leaving droppings within the burrowed skin. Effected areas usually become encrusted with hard skin and will often appear as raised crusty mounds. From my experience, the first effected areas are usually the feet then legs working upwards, but in truth it can start anywhere from where the mite first makes contact with the skin of the bird. I will spare you the ugly photos of the damage I have seen these mites cause, if you suspect scaly mites, please treat it right away. Birds effected with these mites are often seen scratching the effected area constantly, and feather loss on effected areas are common. A drop of Ivermectin (spot on) to the skin or Moxidectin oral will usually deal with these critters, but it usually takes around 2–3 months to eradicate them fully. Petroleum jelly / Vaseline covering the effected area daily will help suffocate the mites and help the skin heal better.

Q - What are the symptoms of E-Coli?

A - Symptoms of E-Coli are listlessness, ruffled feathers, depression, decreased appetite, cough, change in voice, and laboured breathing. Yellowish coloured droppings, diarrhoea, and soiled vent openings are also common in more severe cases. These are just some of the symptoms of E-Coli, as it depends on the severity of the infection. E-Coli is a disease that usually affects internal organs, so a systemic antibiotic is usually needed to help cure the bird of this disease. Birds left in damp or unclean environments without access to clean food and water are usually most at risk of catching this disease. Tetracyclines and Sulla drugs are usually used to combat E-Coli in birds.

Q - What are the symptoms of Salmonella?

A - Diarrhoea (usually yellow) is a clinical sign of Salmonella. Weight loss, inability to move, ruffled feathers, listlessness, decreased appetite, soiled vent, failure to perch and often found sitting on the floor, stomach pains. Appropriate antibacterial treatment should be considered right away, and the use of electrolytes. Good hygiene and sanitation should be top priority once you identify Salmonella as the cause, although good hygiene and sanitation should be a top priority at all times anyway.

Q - What are the symptoms of Candida?

A - Ruffled feathers, weight loss, poor appetite, delayed crop emptying, crop full of mucus, vomiting, crop impacted with dry food, regurgitation are the most common symptoms of Candida in birds. Candida is a yeast infection and should always be treated as such by using treatments such as Nystatin, Medistatin, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar to deal with the issue. Infected birds can suffer with yeast infections for a long time, but will eventually succumb to the infection.

Q- What are the symptoms of Psittacosis - Parrot Fever

A - Bacterium Chlamydia Psittaci is a germ which causes a lung infection known as Psittacosis or Parrot Fever. More common in Parrots, Budgies, Parakeets, Pigeons, Canaries, it really has no limitations and can be found in many types of domestic birds. It is usually spread from feather dust or dried faecal matter and can easily be transmitted from birds to humans. Poor sanitation or hygiene plays a huge part in its transmission, so keeping their cages clean at all times is vital not only to their health but also your own. Typical symptoms are A dry cough, Shortness of breath, Headaches, Fever, Muscle aches, General malaise, Constant tiredness. Yellow droppings are commonly seen with birds with Psittacosis, along with laboured breathing or/and tail bobbing. If you suspect your bird has Psittacosis then it is recommended to take your bird t an Avian Vet for diagnosis where the correct antibiotics would be prescribed if founds to have the bacterium. If you suspect you may have it yourself, then see your local GP/Doctor right away.

Q - What are the symptoms of the Northern Fowl Mite

A - Firstly, these little nasties can live in your environment for around 2 weeks without any birds to feed from. They are blood sucking mites and can bite humans too, but will not live long without blood from a bird. To reproduce, they need to feed on blood from a bird, not from humans. The Northern Fowl Mite (Ornithonyssus bursae) are not limited to any particular species of bird and can multiply quickly if not dealt with at the point of knowing they are there. By the time you notice them, there is often already an infestation. They are often called the Dreaded Red Mite among bird fanciers because once you spot them they can be a real challenge to get rid of them. There are many ways to deal with them today, but to completely eradicate them for good will probably get you listed in the hall of fame. They like dark areas and will hide in cracks or crevices, so sterilizing needs to be meticulous. They usually leave clear visual signs of their presence as you may find spots of blood on the perches, bite marks on the bird, feather loss, red sore looking patches on the bird, constant scratching of infected areas, sleeping all the time, Anaemia, heavy breathing, lameness, lack of energy. If you spot even just one of these mites, then sterilize the whole environment, check your birds carefully and treat them all with the appropriate mite treatment.

Q - What are the symptoms of Polyomavirus?

A - Sudden death, laboured breathing, depression, delayed crop emptying, regurgitation, diarrhoea, enlarged abdomen sometimes filled with a yellow looking puss, anorexia, weight loss, tremors, signs of haemorrhages below the skin surface. Treatments or cures seem vague and is hard to really treat successfully. How it is transmitted is really unknown, and many sites give unreliable answers. As it says in the name PolyomaVIRUS so it is assumed it would spread the same way as most viruses would typically spread. It is usually a juvenile sickness, and Surviving adults sometimes develop elongated beaks. Society finches also known as bengalese can be carriers, they can often pass it on to the chicks they are feeding whilst themselves not suffering the same fate.

Q - What are the symptoms of Circovirus?

A - Firstly, you have to understand that Circovirus is known as a 'young bird disease', therefore it does not really affect older birds or birds which are adult. To properly diagnose Circovirus, a tiny blood sample on a sheet of blotting paper which can be provided in a kit then the sample sent off for analysis, this test is called a PCR test. The test itself looks for DNA of the Circovirus in the blood of the bird. Persistent Canker, Eye colds, that keep returning despite being treated could be an indication that Circovirus is the underlying problem. Abnormal feather growth, bruising in the bird's lower right-hand side of the abdomen area, weight loss, unable to fly properly, diarrhoea, yellowish discharge dried on the beak, young deaths. It is not uncommon to find a whole nest of dead chicks thanks to Circovirus and never fully understand why they all died while believing you yourself had done something wrong.


Q - My gouldian finch has Scaly Face/Leg Mites, what medications will treat this?

A - Scaly face/leg mite are really hard to eliminate, and many people will suggest using Scatt, S76, Ivermectin or Moxidectin, but it goes deeper than just treating. You must sterilize the whole cage, perches or replace the perches altogether if they are wood. Mites can bury deep into cracks of wood, only to come out at night to feast on the blood of your birds. Because they burrow in to the skin of the bird, and they feed off the blood, you need a medication which works through the blood. Birds who are victims of these scaly mites should be treated using Moxidectin once a month every month for 3 months minimum. If left untreated for too long, the mites can cause permanent damage to your gouldian finches. You can rub Petroleum Jelly over the infected area daily to help speed up the process and help soften the skin.

Q - My gouldian finch has Air Sac Mites, what medications will treat this?

A - Either Scatt, S76, Ivermectin or Moxidectin will work, fast acting medications such as spot-on versions should be avoided in severe cases because they kill all the mites in one go thus blocking the bird's airways which can lead to sudden death. Water-soluble version are best for this scenario as they kill the mites slower. In less severe cases a spot-on should be used such as Ivermectin spot-on or Scatt spot-on. Please note that Moxidectin can not be purchased in some countries.

Q - My gouldian finch has Canker/Trichomoniasis, what medication treats this?

A - Ronidazole is the choice of treatment for Canker/Trichomoniasis. It is not uncommon for a second or even a third course of treatment to repeat the treatments to eradicate Canker/Trichomoniasis, but it can persist.

Q - What do I use to treat Candidiasis?

A - Since it is a fungal disease, it is recommended to use Nystatin as the first choice. Other things you can use are fluconazole, itraconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, enilconazole, and amphotericin B.

Q - What should I use to treat parasitic worms?

A - The old way (which actually works) is to use Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, The dosage varies from 5ml to 10ml of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 Litre of water for 24–48 hours. Praziquantel seems to work better and will kill most types of parasitic worm. Remember, there are many types of parasitic worms which can infect your gouldian finches, so identification is needed to target the right type of worm. Identification is done through stool samples and then observed under a microscope, you may not see the actual worm, but you will see the eggs which can identify the worm. Moxidectin kills some types of parasitic worms and is often used with Praziquantel.

Q - My gouldian finches have Coccidiosis, what to I use to treat them?

A - Coccidiosis is very common in many bird species but the most effective is Baycox, Any coxoid type medicine will do as long as the dosage is correct. Dosage for Baycox 5% is 1.5ml per 2 Litre of water, or Baycox 10% at the rate of 0.75ml per 2 litres of water. If treating with Baycox then you should treat as the only source of drinking water for 48 hours, then one week later treat again for a further 48 hours. Coccidiosis can appear shortly after heavy rains, even if your birds are kept indoors. Damp spots in the cage or aviary are usual breeding grounds, so always check and move drinkers about the cage as well as baths.

Q - My gouldian finches have Giardia, which medications will I need?

A - Giardia is a protozoan which will live in the intestines, Droppings can often have a pungent smell and can be a classic give away that Giardia is present. Ronidazole or Metronidazole would be the best treatment of choice.

Q - My gouldian finches have E-Coli, what medications will I need?

A - Although you can use antibiotic treatments such as tetracyclines and sulfa drugs, they do not always work because many strains of E-Coli have built up a resistance to these. Natural products seem to work better, such as Cinnamon, Cloves and fresh Garlic. NEVER use natural oils as these will probably kill your finch as they release toxic fumes. I have never used this myself since I have never had a finch with E-Coli, so the dosage I am unsure about.

Q - Which medications are needed to treat Salmonella in my gouldian finches?

A - Many broad spectrum antibiotics seem to work fine on Salmonella such as Baytril/Enroflaxin, Doxycycline. Remember there are many different strains of Salmonella and over-use of antibiotic drugs can result in drug resistant Salmonella strains.

Q - How do I treat Megabacteria/Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY)?

A - The names MegaBACTERIA and Avian Gastric YEAST are both very confusing for even the professions because it is not really a bacterium at all, does not act like a yeast and is more fungal if anything, but this topic has been debated for a long time. I have found many conflicting articles on this subject and decided many moons ago that I will treat it as a fungal disease and not a bacterium or a yeast infection. Nystatin, fluconazole, itraconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, enilconazole, and amphotericin B. are antifungals which are likely to have some form of effect, but there really are no guarantees. Fungal infections such as Megabacteria or Aspergillus can be damn near impossible to cure depending on the severity, it needs to be caught as early as possible to have any chance of success.

Q - How do I treat Pox Virus?

A - Amoxicillin and Potassium Clavulanate / Amoxycillin and Clavulanic acid (Product - Clavam - 7 day treatment).